Emmy Nominations: 'House of Cards,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Tyrant' and More Composers React

Christopher Barr
Jeff Danna and Mychael Danna

'Transparent,' 'Texas Rising' and 'The Doverkeepers' are also among the nonimations.

Thursday morning’s (July 14) Emmy nominations were music to more than two dozen composers’ ears who heard their names called in the Television Academy’s multiple music categories.

One of Transparents 11 nominations goes to Dustin O’Halloran for outstanding original main title theme. O’Halloran, the only first-time nominee in the category, was in a grocery store in Berlin when he got the call. He recounted to Billboard how he and Transparent creator Jill Soloway came up with the theme.

“I created the theme on an old Blüthner piano from the 1930s that has this very special nostalgic quality to it,” he said. “Jill sent me these amazing blurry old images that had this VHS quality and a nostalgia of their own, so it seemed to fit. I was already working on different themes for the show and this one stood out, so I decided to see how it would work against the film and was really happy with how it all came together.”

His competition in the outstanding original main theme category includes John Debney and Bruce Broughton for their theme for the History Channel’s Texas Rising. Three-time Emmy winner Debney was in the studio when he got the call from his agent, Richard Kraft, with the good news. “Both Bruce and I have independently received award nominations for our work in the western genre; Bruce received an Oscar nomination for Silverado and I received an Emmy nomination for Hatfields and McCoys,” Debney told Billboard, adding that he hadn’t been able to chat with his co-composer, who was flying when the nominations were announced. “It was a thrill for me to again work with writer/producer Leslie Greif and have the honor of collaborating with Roland Joffe. Bruce and my desire was to create a score as big and bold as Texas. We hope we achieved that.”

Also nominated in the category is three-time Emmy winner Jeff Beal for The Dovekeepers, the CBS series about the siege of Masada in 70 C.E. “I’m fascinated by history and the way place influences the musical character of a score,” he said. “The setting of the Masada, in the Israeli desert in the 1st century AD was a fascinating and rich world to explore musically.”

Beal is also nominated in outstanding music composition for a series for episode 32 of House of Cards. The episode of the HBO series takes place in Russia, allowing “for a type of music I hadn’t been able to explore in a previous seasons of House of Cards,” he said.

Like Beal, brothers Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna received nominations in both the outstanding original main title theme music (for FX Network’s Tyrant)  and for outstanding music composition for a series for Tyrant’s pilot. “We are thrilled with our double nomination for this very timely and epic Middle Eastern drama,” said the Danna brothers in a statement, thankfully adding, “Unlike the brothers in Tyrant, neither of us is presently — spoiler alert — planning fratricide and a power-grab.”

Bear McCreary got to explore his passion for Scottish music in the “Sassenach” episode of Starz’s Outlander, also up for outstanding music composition for a series. I have adored Scottish folk music since I kid and have spent my career questing for a project that would allow me to channel that passion for bagpipes and penny whistles into something productive,” he said in a statement, adding, “Now, I must prepare to attend the Emmys representing Outlander. Is it time to buy a kilt?”

Kevin Kliesch may pull off an Emmy coup with his nomination for outstanding music composition for a limited series, movie or a special. His nod comes for Disney Channel’s Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy. He won a Daytime Emmy earlier this year for his work on the series, while Thursday’s nomination comes for a special primetime episode. Kliesch was awakened in Hawaii at 5:45 a.m. with the news. “I’m not sure if any composer has been nominated for the same show in the same year in two different Emmy awards shows — but I’d be elated to be the first!” he said in a statement.

For Bob Thiele, his nomination for outstanding original music and lyrics for “Come Join the Murder” for the series finale of FX Network’s Sons of Anarchy is welcome but bittersweet. “I wish the show had received more recognition,” he told Billboard. He wrote the song with Jake Smith and the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter. “Kurt had the idea and wrote the lyric,” he said. “We thought the white buffalo's voice was the way to convey the emotion of the scene. This would be, after all, the very last thing that would carry the series to its ultimate conclusion. As usual, it was an amazing task to create the musical narrative to drive the emotion — six minutes of music, virtually no dialogue.”

The 67th Emmy Awards will air Sept. 20 on Fox. Nominated programs aired between June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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